Joel Preston did his part to catch a college’s attention.
He excelled in the classroom and on the soccer pitch, and the University of North Carolina-Asheville was among the schools that took notice.
Preston liked what UNC-Ashville had to offer, and thus has chosen to spend the next four years furthering his education and his playing career at the NCAA Divison I school in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“I liked what they had academically and also soccer-wise,” said the Glynn Academy graduating senior. “I felt like it would be a good fit for me, a good place to spend the next four years.”
Preston signed a scholarship with the Bulldogs on Friday during a signing ceremony at the Athletics Center at Glynn County Stadium with family, friends, teammates, school administrators and coaches all there for the occasion.
Longtime Glynn coach Bobby Brockman spoke highly of Preston who provided a solid presence in the midfield for the Red Terrors.
“Joel has been an integral part of our success during his time at GA,” Brockman said. “He is a great possession midfielder who reads the game extremely well. He has the ability to control the tempo of the game and is fantastic at connecting passes.
“His job wasn’t to score a lot of goals, but he did have one of the best in our history. He bombed one from about 28 yards to help us to a 1-0 win. It’s one I’ll never forget.
“He just did a lot of things to help the team. He’s a smart player, great teammate. He was super with the guys, very coachable.”
The Terrors saw their 2020 season cut short in mid-March by the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, Glynn was 8-0-1 on the season and finished the season ranked No. 1 in the final poll by MaxPreps.
Glynn will never know what might have happened had it been able to finish the season.
“We were looking forward to seeing how it would play out,” Preston said. “We feel like we had a really strong group, and we definitely could have gotten really far into state.
“But life happens sometimes. You’ve got to deal with what you’ve got and keep going.”
Preston has experience playing elite-level club soccer, too. He played locally with the Golden Isles Soccer Academy before also playing for the Jacksonville FC, Savannah United and the Tormenta FC which he helped to a state championship in South Carolina. He also has trained in the Olympic Development Program in Georgia and South Carolina.
He currently has a 4.39 GPA and will graduate with Highest Honors. Preston has completed several college courses already through the College of Coastal Georgia.
“It’s been a great four years, and I’m looking forward to the next four,” he said.
– Compiled by Kevin Price for GCS Athletics